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Linguistics , also linguistics (from Latin lingua , tongue, language), examines human language in different approaches . The content of linguistic research is language as a system, its individual components and units and their meanings. In addition, linguistics deals with the origin, origin and historical development of language, with its versatile use in written and oral communication , with the perception, learning and articulation of language as well as the disturbances that may be associated with it.

As a large branch of linguistics, general linguistics examines aspects that several languages ​​have in common. It provides the methods with which any individual languages ​​can be described and compared with one another. Essential aspects of general linguistics are grammar theory , comparative linguistics or language typology and historical linguistics . Language system, language history and language use can also focuses on certain individual languages are studied limited or language groups, as in the German Linguistics the German or as part of the Romance languages , the Romance languages .

Another branch of linguistics is applied linguistics . This can also deal with questions that are formulated across languages, for example topics relating to language teaching in the area of foreign language teaching and learning research or language therapy in clinical linguistics .

Linguistics encompasses numerous large and small sub-areas, which overall are inconsistent in terms of both content and method and are in contact with a large number of other sciences. For example, media linguistics and political linguistics deal with public language use, and psycholinguistics examines, among other things, language acquisition . In terms of methodology, corpus linguistics and quantitative linguistics in particular have gained in importance in recent decades .

Science type

Since there are different interpretations of the term language and very different aspects of language are examined, it is not possible to assign linguistics to just one type of science. For example, linguistics as the study of the linguistic system is viewed by many as a sub-area of semiotics , the study of signs, and can thus be assigned to the group of structural and formal sciences . If, however, the individual acquisition of language and the use of language are viewed from a psychological or clinical point of view, then these sub-areas of linguistics are to be classified as natural sciences . When looking at language as a social and cultural phenomenon, on the other hand, linguistics is to be assessed as a cultural or spiritual science . There are also sub-areas of linguistics (e.g. ethno- , political- or sociolinguistics ) that, as such, can be counted among the social sciences .


The terms linguistics and linguistics

"Institute for Linguistics" (formerly) and "Department of Linguistics" (now) as names of the same university institution

Basically there are no strict rules for naming this discipline itself in linguistics. On the one hand, the very different research areas of linguistics, but also their proximity and specification in the various individual language philologies (such as German, English, Romance studies, etc.) allow linguistics as overall, these do not appear to be closed. As a result, even within academic institutions , the plural form of linguistics is often used to denote not only linguistics, but also the plural form linguistics .

On the other hand, the terms linguistics and linguistics are mostly equated and also when naming sub-disciplines are generally understood as synonyms , as is the case, for example, with the terms historical linguistics and historical linguistics . However, there are certain regional preferences. For example, the term general linguistics is used less in Austria and is more commonly referred to as general linguistics . Certain names may also be preferred in the individual local “schools”.

Often, however, a distinction is made between the two terms insofar as, with linguistics, language and the use of language are seen as a social and cultural phenomenon. With this understanding, linguistics is close to literary studies and especially to philology. In contrast, linguistics is understood to mean pure system linguistics , i.e. the consideration of the structure of individual languages ​​and their different functions, such as in the course of the acquisition of language, its representation in the brain, its use depending on social or demographic factors, etc.

The adjective linguistic basically means linguistic . Very often the word is also used linguistically with the meaning . The expression a linguistic phenomenon in such cases does not mean 'a linguistic phenomenon' but 'a linguistic phenomenon'. This double meaning is due, among other things, to the fact that the English adjective linguistic means both 'linguistic' and 'linguistic', which was transferred to the German word.

Designation of sub-disciplines

Regardless of whether or not there is a naming dichotomy between linguistics and linguistics , only the term linguistics is used when designating the linguistic sub-disciplines that affect other areas of science . For example, there is only one sociolinguistics and no socio- or social linguistics . In terms of terminology, only psycholinguistics , computational linguistics , political linguistics , etc. can usually be found.

Sometimes, but rarely in Austria, the sub-area of ​​general linguistics is also referred to as theoretical linguistics or theoretical linguistics .

Furthermore, there is the question, which has not been fully clarified, of what is meant by "applied" linguistics. On the one hand, it can be understood to mean those sub-areas that examine the language actually used (in contrast to the theoretical constructs of linguistic systems, grammar models, etc.); on the other hand, “applied” linguistics can also mean that the research results are applied in practice (outside of linguistics) (speech therapy, speech recognition on the computer, etc.). This problem of borderline cases between general or theoretical and applied linguistics is discussed within the discipline, based on a discussion in the English-speaking scientific area, also under the designation opposition applied linguistics (for the former case) versus linguistics applied (for the latter case).

Specialized vocabulary

Specialized terminology is used in linguistics. A whole series of technical terms also appear in everyday language usage. Basic terms are understandable to the general public through the school education. This includes in particular the names for parts of speech (verb, noun, etc.), for functional sentence elements (subject, object, etc.) and other expressions from traditional school grammar. In addition, there are a number of expressions that non-linguists can intuitively grasp in their basic meaning (type of text, speaker, language corpus, etc.), which can sometimes lead to errors, because many technical expressions have a different or additional meaning within the scientific discipline than in the linguistic one Everyday life. In addition, laypeople prefer expressions of this kind, based on their experience in school lessons, from a normative point of view, i.e. in terms of what is “right” and what is “wrong”, while they usually have a purely descriptive function as technical terms within the scientific discipline . Such blurred boundaries between colloquial language and technical language are not a specific feature of linguistics, but are also found in other sciences.

In addition to expressions that are close to common usage and often come from German , there is a whole series of terms that consist of Latin or ancient Greek word elements. Newer technical terms are often taken from English or Germanized. Only a very small part of the technical vocabulary (which developed early in the history of science) comes from French . In the linguistic outskirts of other disciplines, their specialist terminology also plays an important role.


In addition to the inhomogeneous naming of the scientific discipline itself, the division of linguistics into clearly delimited sub-disciplines is also inconsistent. Often such a separation is even controversial, which is not least due to the strong interdisciplinary character of the overall scientific area. Many researchers already feel that the three major linguistic domains are delimited

  • Comparative linguistics or historical linguistics
  • General Linguistics and
  • Applied Linguistics

as artificial or inexpedient. This also corresponds to the sometimes different assignment of individual research fields to either one or the other area. So z. For example, there is no general agreement as to whether variety linguistics should be regarded as a separate area of ​​applied linguistics or as part of sociolinguistics .

Philology, which examines individual languages ​​from a linguistic as well as literary and cultural studies point of view, is not usually rated as a sub-area of ​​linguistics. Rather, it is regarded as a separate discipline in terms of the history of science, which in Germany is often reflected in a correspondingly separate university structure, even if there are close links between philologies and linguistics. In Austria, on the other hand, the corresponding university institutes (primarily German , English , Romance and Slavonic studies ) generally have both a philological and literary and a linguistic department.

There is broad consensus regarding the following taxonomy of the linguistic sub-disciplines.

Comparative Linguistics

Comparative Linguistics can be broken down into individual sub-areas according to whether a diachronic or synchronous method of investigation is present. The general comparative subjects can also be assigned to general linguistics and the historical comparative subjects to an independent historical linguistics.

  • General comparative linguistics
    • Area typology , the synchronous comparative investigation of languages ​​in a geographical area with the aim of determining language groups
    • Contrastive linguistics , the synchronous comparative investigation of mostly only two languages ​​with the aim of recognizing the specific differences between them
    • Language typology , the synchronous comparative investigation of languages ​​with the aim of determining language types
    • Universals research tries to uncover the properties common to all languages ​​( language universals )
    • Variety linguistics , the synchronous-comparative investigation of individual languages ​​with the aim of working out differences within this specific language, i.e. linguistic varieties , e.g. B. different dialects , sociolects , technical languages , etc. (Since these differences are largely due to social factors, variety linguistics is also treated as a sub-area of ​​sociolinguistics, a discipline of applied linguistics.)
Franz Bopp (1791–1865), founder of historical-comparative linguistics
  • Historical-comparative linguistics (also diachrony )
  • Historical linguistics (in the narrower sense), the diachronically comparative study of languages ​​with the aim of working out language families and comparing the development lines of one or more individual languages, i.e. changes in phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics and stylistics over time. So it deals with language change in every respect.
There is also a widespread tradition which combines this subject with the sub-areas listed below into a single major, Historical Linguistics or Historical Linguistics . Under this assumption, then, we have the understanding of historical linguistics in the broader sense.

At the same time, a classification is made which, in addition to general linguistics and applied linguistics, counts historical linguistics as the third major sub-area instead of comparative linguistics, with the general comparative subjects then being included in general linguistics.

Ferdinand de Saussure (1857–1913), one of the most important exponents of linguistic structuralism
Noam Chomsky (* 1928), founder of generative grammar and revolutionary in theoretical linguistics

General Linguistics

General linguistics, sometimes also called theoretical linguistics , is devoted to the investigation of language as an abstract system, but also to the establishment of general theories about language, the latter also being attempted by younger sub-disciplines of applied linguistics, such as sociolinguistics or discourse analysis.

Traditional core areas of general linguistics are as follows:

  • Graphemics , the study of writing as a language system
  • Lexicology , the study of the structuring of the vocabulary of a language and its mental representation
  • Morphology , the teaching of "word modules" and changeable word forms (inflected forms, word formation)
  • Phonetics , the study of speech sounds (sound structure of languages, articulation, sound perception)
  • Phonology , the study of the speech sound systems of the individual languages ​​(sound combinations, syllable theory), including intonation ( prosody )
  • Pragmatics , the investigation of the (situation-dependent) meaning of utterances and actions using language ( speech acts , conversation)
  • Semantics , the investigation of the meaning and meaning of linguistic units (word meaning, sentence meaning)
  • Syntax , the study of the form and structure of sentences

Recently, the following research areas can also be seen as independent sub-areas:

  • Conversational linguistics (also linguistic conversation analysis, dialogue research), investigation of authentic oral communication
  • Grammar theory , investigation of the structure of grammar using formal models
  • Quantitative linguistics , the development of language laws on the basis of statistical surveys with the aim of conceiving a theory of language based on this
  • Text linguistics , the investigation of the structure, function and effect of texts and their components

The following sub-areas are mainly in the border area between others or include several such:

  • Morphonology , examines word formation on a phonological level
  • Morphosyntax deals with the influence of morphological processes on syntactic variables
  • Philosophy of language , the exploration of general functions of language and elements of language and the relationship between language, thinking, imagination and reality

Applied Linguistics

Applied linguistics is by no means to be understood as a homogeneous sub-area of ​​linguistics, rather it subsumes the sub-disciplines that primarily do not deal with language as an abstract system, but see language in the context of its "real" environment, i.e. the one that is actually used Dedicate language. This understanding of "applied", i.e. applied linguistics , is opposed to the idea of linguistics applied , which means the practical implementation of linguistic research results as it is available e.g. B. in the case of computational linguistics (where findings from general linguistics are used in computer science), clinical linguistics (where research serves the development of forms of therapy), language teaching research (for the development of teaching material) or writing research and writing didactics (for educational purposes).

Furthermore, psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics and other subjects are often included in general linguistics because they are dedicated to the description of language as part of the individual and want to explore general principles and processes - in contrast to those disciplines that relate to practical life and thus deal with the "application" of language.

Since sociolinguistics examines language and society as well as the multilingualism of society itself, it can also be used as an umbrella term for those sub-disciplines that are normally considered to be equally established areas of applied linguistics, e.g. B. for language teaching research or discourse analysis.

Above all, however, the structures of universities and institutes determine how the disciplines are perceived, because the majority of the applied subjects also deal with aspects that are defined as general linguistics.

Applied linguistics usually includes the following areas:

  • Computational Linguistics under the Aspects
  • Forensic linguistics , investigation and diagnosis of language for criminal and judicial purposes
  • Internet linguistics, analysis of linguistic phenomena that arise in and through the Internet
  • Clinical linguistics , research into language use and language perception in the event of damage to the brain and the development of therapeutic procedures including language development diagnostics; it is closely related to some other subjects that are either included in applied linguistics or general linguistics. In addition to psycholinguistics, this also includes in particular
    • Neurolinguistics , the study of how language is processed in the brain
    • Patholinguistics (also speech pathology), the investigation of problems with speech perception, processing and production
  • Lexicography , creation of dictionaries (primarily for general use)
  • Language and writing advice, advice and coaching for institutions, public institutions, journalism and public relations as well as for private purposes and areas
  • Language teaching and language learning research and language didactics , investigation of and design measures for language teaching, speech training, literacy; including other sub-areas such as writing didactics and studying learning behavior
  • Language planning , investigation and creation of political framework conditions and language policy measures for language standardization or multilingualism
  • Standardology deals with the standardization of languages ​​or sub-languages ​​(such as combining several language varieties into a (national) standard language within the framework of language policy or with the standardization of technical and other terminology, etc.).

The following sub-areas are applied subjects in the sense of applied linguistics and can also be included in general linguistics in a broader sense:

  • Computational linguistics under the partial aspects
  • Ethnolinguistics , study of language and language culture from an ethnographic point of view
  • Psycholinguistics , the study of language in relation to psychological functions, especially here too
  • Sociolinguistics deals “in a narrower sense” with language depending on social variables such as social class or age. “In a broader sense”, the relationship between language and society is dealt with under various aspects as well as the multilingualism of society. This includes the following areas in particular:
    • Feminist linguistics , investigation of language and language use depending on gender, gender-neutral language use (If gender is not defined as natural sex ( sexus ) but as social gender ( gender ), the research is not carried out from a feminist perspective alone and the sub-area as gender linguistics traded).
    • Research on special languages (e.g. youth language , studies of youth language and youth language behavior and their historical development)
    • Linguistic discourse analysis examines expressions of speech on a supra-textual level
    • Language attitude research , examination of attitudes (opinions, attitudes) to specific languages and / or dialects
    • Intercultural communication , investigation of linguistic and extra-linguistic behavior in communication between speakers from different cultures
    • Interlinguistics , the study of international communication primarily using planned languages
    • Media linguistics , research primarily to investigate linguistic phenomena in media texts, multilingualism in the media and to record media discourses
    • Political linguistics, research into language and language behavior in the political sector

Interdisciplinary areas of linguistics

In addition to the subjects already listed, whose assignment depends on the definition, there are a number of other subject areas, the names of which evoke different understanding depending on the university, sub-discipline or paradigmatic orientation and which can only be assigned to a certain linguistic sub-area to a limited extent. Some of them also touch on other fields of science. These are:

  • Dialectology
    • descriptive studies of dialects in general and comparative linguistics
    • Use of dialects, i.e. from a sociolinguistic perspective
    • Relationship between language and dialect, i.e. in variety linguistics
  • Research on technical languages
    • as a systematic description of subject and job-specific languages ​​part of general linguistics (variety linguistics)
    • as a description of the use of specialist languages ​​in communication in government institutions and other facilities (official language, medical specialty, etc.) sub-area of ​​applied linguistics (sociolinguistics)
  • Contact linguistics, investigation of language contact phenomena as an interface between general, applied and comparative linguistics
  • Colonial linguistics, investigation of the diverse linguistic aspects that / have arisen in colonial situations
Electronically produced concordance - means of modern corpus linguistics
  • Corpus linguistics , examination of the linguistic system of real written texts and verbal utterances based on representative text corpora either seen as a new, independent sub-area of ​​general linguistics or used as a method of gaining knowledge in individual general and applied sub-disciplines
  • Paleolinguistics examines the development of human language. It is difficult to assign it to one of the main areas of linguistics and there are overlaps with psychology and anthropology.
  • Ecolinguistics , moderately established branch of sociolinguistic foundation that is essentially devoted to the ecology of language and the language of ecology
  • Writing research and writing didactics , at the interface between text linguistics, sociolinguistic institutional research and language teaching research
  • Writing linguistics is a term that summarizes the various currents of linguistics that are devoted to the study of writing and writing systems as well as their acquisition and targeted use for certain communicative purposes
  • Language statistics
    • as statistics of the languages ​​part of socio-, variety- or interlinguistics
    • as a collection of statistical data on any linguistic aspects, mostly in the area of ​​general linguistics, but also historical linguistics, psycholinguistics, language acquisition research, language typology and other disciplines
  • Speech perception , research into the acoustic perception of language (auditory phonetics) at the intersection of phonetics, psycho- and neurolinguistics
  • Translatology


By listing the linguistic sub-areas, the interdisciplinary character of linguistics becomes clear. Several sub-disciplines explicitly border on other sciences and share certain areas of interest with them. This mainly affects the scientific areas:

In many cases, linguistic sub-disciplines have their technical equivalent in sub-areas of the adjacent sciences, so that both - actually incorrectly, as they are often different in terms of content and method - are also equated with one another in the academic field. This is particularly the case in the following cases:

  • Politolinguistics - Political Communication
  • Psycholinguistics - linguistic psychology
  • Sociolinguistics - Sociology of Language

Linguistics also functions as a designated sub-and auxiliary science of other areas of science:

With regard to certain linguistic research questions , other scientific (sub) disciplines are considered to be related to linguistics , mainly:

History of Linguistics

The history of linguistics extends from ancient beginnings in India and Greece, in which the preoccupation with language was subordinated to other purposes - in India the interpretation of ritual texts, in Greece as preparation for philology - to modern, autonomous science with many sub-disciplines that it is today. Important stations along this path have recently been the establishment of Indo-European studies in the 19th century, the establishment of the structuralist description of language by Ferdinand de Saussure at the beginning of the 20th century and the development of generative grammar by Noam Chomsky since the middle of the 20th century .


Research paradigms

There are three fundamental paradigmatic differences in approach in linguistic research . In the conception of research questions, these can of course also be crossed with one another.

Prescriptive writings on language usage are nowadays largely rejected by scientists as unscientific. Normative-oriented works that are viewed as scientific are to be understood in the sense of applied linguistics , but such works take up little space in the academic field. With regard to normative conclusions in particular, the views here are sometimes very controversial. For example, the extent to which language criticism can and should be carried out by linguists, because it either easily incorporates a valuable norm of the use of language, or often also represents social criticism at the same time, is repeatedly and vigorously debated . Prescriptive work - with a few exceptions such as language development tests, which determine the language level of a child measured against a determined development norm - are largely not dealt with in academic research and teaching, but are usually created by the economic or private side.
Examples of a comparison of prescriptive and descriptive work from the same areas are as follows:
prescriptive descriptive
spelling dictionary

declining dictionary
Psycholinguistics / Clinical Linguistics:
medical language tests

Language development research
Instructions for gender-neutral language use

Description of gender-specific language usage
  • diachronically - synchronously
These perspectives determine whether a linguistic phenomenon is described in its development over time (diachronous) or in the state at a certain point in time (synchronous), whereby this point in time does not have to be just the moment. Although many linguistic phenomena can also be perceived in a historical dimension, in academic linguistics (at least so far) only certain subject areas have established themselves as objects of diachronic investigation. For example, sociolinguistic topics or syntactic phenomena are rarely treated from a historical perspective, while changes in the sound and meaning of words or changes in the vocabulary of a language have long been a central area of ​​historical research. The scope and selection of diachronically oriented research questions, however, of course, depends very much on the existence of the available sources.
Examples of a comparison of diachronic and synchronous works from the same areas are as follows:
diachronous synchronous
shifting German dialect borders from the 16th to the 20th century.

Borders of the German dialects in the 18th century
Language of different social lower classes in a temporal comparison

Language of the working class around 1900
Development of the meaning of the word art in modern times

current range of meanings of the word art
  • natural science - social science
In this dimension it is decided whether language as a form of expression should be approached from a scientific or a social scientific point of view. As opposition to the natural sciences , depending on the conception of “language”, not only social sciences, but also cultural sciences or philology is possible. But while many linguistic phenomena can be interpreted as both diachronic and synchronous events, the dimension “natural vs. social science "for the investigation almost as rigorously as in the case of the" descriptive vs. normative paradigm “an either / or decision ahead. This decision on one of the possible perspectives is essentially accompanied by the choice of certain examination methods. (An exception here is corpus linguistics, whose measuring and counting methods can be useful both for quantitative investigations of a linguistic system and for a qualitative description of linguistic usage.)
Examples of a comparison of scientific and social science work from the same areas are as follows:
scientifically social science
Examining the articulation of certain sounds in voice disorders

Investigating the articulation of certain sounds among members of different social speaking classes
Text linguistics / media linguistics:
Examining the syntactic and stylistic characteristics of media texts

Examining the form and content of media texts in relation to current events
Corpus linguistics:
Use of the word woman in relation to significantly more frequent other words in certain texts

Use of the word woman in relation to the social meaning of the term

Eminent linguists (selection)

Popular science linguistics

to form

Publications of a popular scientific nature are characterized by a. in that they present the results of scientific work in generally understandable language and in a form that is also of interest to non-experts. This not only spreads specialist knowledge to the public, but also brings the subject area closer to the non-academic population.

Linguistics is generally considered to be a “small” science - measured against established scientific disciplines, for example - and for this reason alone is interested in presenting itself to a broader audience through reports in print media, radio and television broadcasts and book publications. Some other scientific disciplines have the advantage in this regard that they can come up with concrete objects (such as archeology with excavation finds or astrophysics with celestial bodies) and with vivid things (such as history with historical events) that are effective for the public . On the other hand, many of the linguistic research areas often seem too intangible for the layperson. Nevertheless, there is a certain interest of people in linguistic matters, which can be determined from the content of popular science publications. As can be seen from the biographical details of the authors of such publications, they are - at least in German-speaking countries - often not themselves academically trained linguists, but originally come from other subject areas or belong to other professions. This phenomenon is particularly widespread in the prescriptive area (language guides, style guides, etc.). These include publications by Rupert Lay or Wolf Schneider and many others.

In many sub-disciplines, the linguistic technical language can be located close to the everyday colloquial language and is then usually only slightly incomprehensible for interested laypeople. Therefore, linguistic specialist publications and popular scientific publications are close together in individual cases.

Both the media used and the forms of content in popular scientific linguistics are diverse. With regard to media use, they now range from classic book publications to specific websites and columns in daily newspapers to audio books and lectures. In terms of content, non-fiction books as well as glosses on language collected in book form are common. Recently - not only in the linguistic area - the design variant of the dictionary has been found again and again, in which a certain topic is dealt with on the basis of individual words, terms or expressions. With the advent of the new media , it became possible without great effort to directly involve the audience in the discussion by voting (via the Internet) or by submitting comments ( postings on websites).


In the first place, linguistic matters that affect people's own language behavior or with which they are repeatedly confronted in everyday life are particularly popular with the general public. This includes the following topics in particular:

Public use of language, language change and language criticism

This comprehensive subject area also makes it clear that popular scientific linguistics cannot be put in a one-to-one relationship with the academic disciplines, because in this area historical, general and applied subjects overlap. By considering the language encountered in public space (mass media of all kinds, political area, advertising, public announcements, etc.) tendencies in current linguistic usage become apparent. The comparison of this with the familiar and the well-known reveals the constant change in language . Dealing with this process and assessing the current use of language from the perspective of other than linguistic positions has a long tradition. With regard to the level of aspiration, dealing with linguistic innovations, their effects and their assessment ranges from, for example, the language-critical essays by Karl Kraus to purely economically motivated, i.e., joking documentation of linguistic misuse without any scientific ambition.

Many of the works that observe public use of language and use as sources mostly the daily press, but also radio, television, Internet and public political speeches and writings, repeatedly formulate valuable criticism and make language-preserving demands . Although they track down innovations in linguistic use and vocabulary that are also of interest to linguists, they usually do not place these phenomena in the context of linguistic knowledge. Such publications, the intrinsic value of which is often already expressed in the titles, are therefore only to a limited extent part of the actual popular linguistic science. One of the issues in this area, namely the current influence of English on the German language, is one of the most discussed at the moment.

A considerable part of such work on changing language and current usage is based on linguistic methodology or is to be regarded as purely descriptive and thus meets the requirements of academic linguistics in this regard. As an expression of this, the views of such popular scientific authors are repeatedly brought into the linguistic discussion. These include, for example, the work of Dieter E. Zimmer and the publications on the topic by Eike Christian Hirsch . Again and again, however, some of this kind are rejected by well-known linguists as being too normative.

Often, observations are specifically designed in the political and social area as dictionaries, whereby the publications intended for the general public range from simple and concise abstracts to descriptions with a professional political background to extensive interdisciplinary work. Such often very profound work can be classified as popular linguistic for various reasons (presentation, target audience ...) and may be purely a matter of judgment.

As far as the subject area of ​​the current language level and language change is concerned, not only are new linguistic phenomena discussed, but a look at the dying vocabulary is also directed and documented.

Regular columns in print media and their online editions also deal with topics from general linguistics, but also with regard to current usage. The best-known ones in Germany are Bastian Sick's onion fish and in Austria the Sedlaczek column by linguist Robert Sedlaczek, which appeared in the Wiener Zeitung on Wednesday . Last but not least, the language-critical action Word of the Year , which - like a hit parade - selects the socio-political most important terms of a year, can be classified as a successful popular science measure in linguistics.

Generally understandable explanation of the importance of place name research (display board of an educational trail on the history of a place)

Etymology and Onomastics

The historical sub-area onomatology is one of the classics of popular scientific linguistics. First and foremost are the lexicons and directories of first names and their meanings, which have long been available in innumerable publications and of varying quality. The possibilities of the internet not only make it possible to offer these online, but also to involve the population in research through the possibility of submitting assessments of individual names. Based on people's desire to know the meaning of their own name and their own family origins and the meaning of names in their own geographical environment, more etymological information on family names (also in connection with genealogy ) and place names is offered.

This is followed by explanations of the history of words about other linguistic elements. Descriptions of the origin and origin of conspicuous expressions or of idioms and proverbs including their explanations are popular. In some cases, both the naming of the title and the content of the relevant standard work from the 19th century, Geflügelte Words by Georg Büchmann, can serve as a model. But also individual words of the everyday vocabulary are presented in this way.

Language descriptions, individual languages

Especially in the area of ​​general language descriptions or language typology, the boundaries between specialist literature and popular science have often been blurred for some time. Generally understandable specialist books stand next to well-founded popular science. Furthermore, the publication motif “clarifying popular errors” is used, which can also be found in fields other than linguistics. Internationally known for it is z. B. The linguist Geoffrey Pullum for a book on widespread misinformation about language in general and certain languages ​​in particular. But also the area of folk etymology should be included.


Practice-oriented and popular scientific publications from the linguistic psychology and psycholinguistic fields also take up a large part. The area of ​​language development in children is of particular interest, especially with regard to possible developmental  disorders. The offer ranges from descriptive presentations of language acquisition to practical advice for parents. The publications also serve the professional needs of educators in the training sector (kindergarten, elementary school) and are practice-related.

Professional societies

In numerous countries there are linguistic societies that serve to promote linguistic research and to network and maintain contacts between linguists. They publish publications and organize specialist conferences and congresses.


Founded: 1947; Headquarters: Wiesbaden .
Founded: 1964; Headquarters: Mannheim .
Founded: 1968; Headquarters: Bayreuth .
Founded: 1978; Headquarters: Düsseldorf .

International umbrella organizations

Founded: 1964; Headquarters: Winterthur .

A strict distinction is to be made between lay organizations that do not serve scientific exchange, but B. have prescribed language maintenance.

See also

Portal: Language  - Overview of Wikipedia content on language

Specialist literature

Lexicons and encyclopedias

General introductions

Textbooks and study books are u. a .:

  • Victoria Fromkin, Robert Rodman, Nina Hymes: An Introduction to Language. 8th edition. Thomson Wadsworth, Boston 2008, ISBN 978-1-4130-1773-1 .
  • Manfred Geier : Orientation linguistics. What she can do, what she wants. Rowohlt, Reinbek near Hamburg 1998, ISBN 3-499-55602-2 .
  • Ludger Hoffmann : Linguistics: A Reader. 3. verb. Edition. de Gruyter, Berlin 2010, ISBN 3-11-016896-0 (selected original texts).
  • Angelika Linke, Markus Nussbaumer, Paul R. Portmann: Study book linguistics. 5th edition. Niemeyer, Tübingen 2004, ISBN 3-484-31121-5 .
  • John Lyons : The Language. 4. through Edition. Beck, Munich 1992, ISBN 3-406-36676-7 .
  • Horst M. Müller (Ed.): Workbook Linguistics. An introduction to linguistics. 2. revised u. update Edition. Schöningh, Paderborn 2009, ISBN 978-3-506-97007-7 .
  • William O'Grady et al. a .: Contemporary Linguistics. An Introduction. 3. Edition. (Reprint). Addison-Wesley Longman, London 2007, ISBN 978-0-582-24691-1 .
  • Heidrun Pelz: Linguistics: an introduction. Hoffmann and Campe, Hamburg 1996, ISBN 3-455-10331-6 .
  • Johannes Volmert (Ed.): Basic course in linguistics. 4th edition. Fink, Munich 2000, ISBN 3-7705-3064-0 .
  • George Yule: The study of language. Cambridge University Press, 1996, ISBN 0-521-56851-X .

There are also numerous other introductory works

  • in the linguistic orientations of individual Philology English Studies, Romance Languages, Slavic etc.
    are u for the German. a. in front:
    • Albert Busch, Oliver Stenschke: German Linguistics. An introduction. 2. through u. corr. Edition. Narr, Tübingen 2008, ISBN 978-3-8233-6414-6 .
    • Gabriele Graefen, Martina Liedke: German Linguistics. German as a first, second or foreign language 2., revised. u. extended Edition. with CD-ROM, (UTB 8381), A. Francke, Tübingen 2012, ISBN 978-3-8252-8491-6 , online resource with table of contents .
    • Wilfried Kürschner: Paperback linguistics. A study companion for Germanists. 3. through Edition. Schmidt, Berlin 2007, ISBN 978-3-503-09814-9 .
    • Jörg Meibauer: Introduction to German linguistics. 2nd Edition. Metzler, Stuttgart 2007, ISBN 978-3-476-02141-0 .
    • Jakob Ossner, Heike Zinsmeister (ed.): Linguistics for teaching. Ferdinand Schöningh, Paderborn 2014, ISBN 978-3-8252-4083-7 .
    • Heinz Vater: Introduction to Linguistics. Wilhelm Fink Verlag, Munich 2002, ISBN 3-8252-1799-X .
  • For Romance studies there are u. a. in front:
    • Theresa Antes: Analysis linguistique de la langue française. Yale University Press, 2006, ISBN 0-300-10944-X .
    • Wolf Dietrich, Horst Geckeler: Introduction to Spanish Linguistics: A Text and Workbook. 5th, through. Edition. Erich Schmidt, Berlin 2007, ISBN 978-3-503-07995-7 .
    • Petrea Lindenbauer, Michael Metzeltin , Margit Thir: The Romance languages. An introductory overview. Egert, Wilhelmsfeld 1995, ISBN 3-926972-47-5 .
    • Andreas Wesch: Basic Spanish Linguistics. 5th edition. Klett, Stuttgart 2006, ISBN 3-12-939622-5 .
  • in the individual sub-areas of linguistics as well as
  • into methodology.


  • Karl-Heinz Best : LinK. Linguistics in brief with an outlook on quantitative linguistics. 5th revised edition. RAM-Verlag, Lüdenscheid 2008 (brief overview, revision course).
  • Clemens-Peter Herbermann u. a .: Language and languages ​​2. Thesaurus for general linguistics and language thesaurus. Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden 2002, ISBN 3-447-04567-1 (subject systematics of general linguistics and systematics of individual languages, including a list of authors).
  • Wilfried Kürschner (Ed.): Linguist Handbook . 2 volumes. Narr Verlag, Tübingen 1994 (directory of linguists).
  • Jutta Limbach (Ed.): Emigrated words . Hueber Verlag, Ismaning 2006, ISBN 3-19-107891-6 .
  • Jan WF Mulder, Paul Rastall: Ontological Questions in Linguistics. (Lincom Studies in Theoretical Linguistics. No. 35). Lincom Europe, 2005, ISBN 3-89586-461-7 .

Web links

Commons : Linguistics  - collection of images, videos, and audio files
Wiktionary: Linguistics  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: Linguistics  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: Linguist  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Linguistic terms and dictionaries. On-line
  2. as such. z. B.
  3. ^ Karl Kraus: The language. first published posthumously in 1937, subsequently published several times, most recently in 2003 (Frankfurt am Main, Suhrkamp).
  4. So z. B.
    • Violations - language glitches from all over the world. Langenscheidt, Berlin / Munich 2007, ISBN 978-3-468-29851-6 .
    • Bastian Sick : Happy Aua - A picture book from the maze of the German language. Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Cologne 2007, ISBN 978-3-462-03903-0 (and following title).
  5. Older works of this kind are for example:
    • Gustav Wustmann : All kinds of language stupidities. Little German grammar of the doubtful, the wrong and the ugly. 9th, improved edition. Walter de Gruyter, Berlin / Leipzig 1923.
    • Walter Kirkam: Dear German. German Book Community, Darmstadt 1961.
    • Hans Weigel : The suffering of young words. An anti dictionary. 5th edition. dtv, Munich 1979.
  6. The best- known example of this are the successful publications by Bastian Sick, which appeared under the series title Der Dativ ist das Genitive seine Tod .
  7. ^ Society for German Language : Words That Made History. 20th Century Key Terms. Bertelsmann, Gütersloh / Munich 2001, ISBN 3-577-10459-7 .
  8. Erhard Eppler : Looked at politics on the mouth. Small dictionary for public use. Dietz, Bonn 2009, ISBN 978-3-8012-0397-9 .
  9. ^ Oswald Panagl & Peter Gerlich (eds.): Dictionary of political language in Austria. Österreichischer Bundesverlag, Vienna 2007, ISBN 978-3-209-05952-9 .
  10. Well-known publications of this type are for example:
  11. For example on .
  12. ^
  13. An extensive work is from Duden: Familiennames. Origin and meaning of 20,000 family names. 2nd, completely revised edition. Dudenverlag, Mannheim 2005, ISBN 3-411-70852-2 . An easily understandable overview of the geographical names of Austria as well as the family name typology can be found in Heinz-Dieter Pohl , Birgit Schwander: The Book of Austrian Names. Origin, character, meaning. Pichler Verlag, Vienna 2007, ISBN 978-3-85431-442-4 .
  14. Examples are:
  15. For example Christoph Gutknecht: Loud pointed tongues. Winged words and their story. 2nd, improved edition. Beck, Munich 1997, ISBN 3-406-39286-5 .
  16. a b Heike Olschanksy: Small Lexicon of Folk Etymologies. Reclam, Stuttgart 1999, ISBN 3-15-018023-6 .
  17. For example
  18. ↑ Something like that
  19. ^ Geoffrey K. Pullum: The Great Eskimo Vocabulary Hoax and other irreverent Essays on the Study of Language. Chicago University Press, Chicago 1991.
  20. Norbert Kühne: How children learn language. Basics - strategies - educational opportunities. Primus, Darmstadt 2003, ISBN 3-89678-467-6 .
  21. Review by, online edition